Welcome to The Dispatch
News from the frontlines of The War on Cars
We know, we know… another newsletter. But hold on! There are so many developments in The War on Cars that simply can’t be contained in single podcast episodes that we decided to put together a regular dispatch of — to butcher a famous slogan — all the news that doesn’t fit. (Seriously, you should see our “episode ideas” channel in Slack. If we produced an episode for each news item we shared with each other we’d have to put out a new episode every half hour or so.)
As with podcasting, the beauty of the format is that the sky’s the limit. We see this as a great way of keeping in touch and building a community around the podcast, so we want to hear from you. What would you like to read? Think there’s a cool news item we need to know about? Something happening in your hometown that’s worth a mention? Questions you want answered? Short interviews and profiles of listeners and other cool people? Let us know!
Thanks for your support,
Aaron, Sarah and Doug
📰 In the news
Have you seen the new USPS delivery vehicle? It may not look pretty but if SUVs and light trucks were designed with a similar profile the roads would be a heck of a lot safer. The only issue we have the new vehicles is that not all of them will be electric, at least not right away.
New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo writes that the problem with electric cars is that they’re still cars. “Fixing the problems caused by cars with new and improved cars and expensive new infrastructure just for cars illustrates why we’re in this mess in the first place — an entrenched culture of careless car dependency.”
Congressmen Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have proposed a bill that will offer a tax credit of 30% of the cost of an electric bicycle, up to a $1,500. It’s called the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act. Get it?
Drivers in the UK city of Coventry who give up old gas- and diesel-powered cars will be eligible to receive up to £3,000 in credits for public transportation, bicycles, electric scooters, car sharing and taxis.
Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from gas-powered cars because the pollution-control devices contain palladium, a precious metal more valuable than gold.
Friend of the podcast Andrew J. Hawkins writes in The Verge that LEGO is listening to fans who want the famous toy company to include more bicycles and bike lanes in its line of “City” sets.
Traffic noise such isn’t just annoying — it can also be a major psychological stressor and lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Read more from Cypress Hansen in Knowable Magazine.
Can you imagine going car shopping, turning down a dealer’s offer and then being held against your will until you accept? This is a thing that sometimes happens, according to this story in Jalopnik by Tom McParland.
🎙 Our latest episode
In Episode 59, Housing for People, Not Cars, Sarah talks with residents of Cully Green, a new co-housing development in Portland, Oregon. What would it be like to open your front door and see other people instead of cars? Why are developments like this so unusual? Find out wherever you get your podcasts.
🔓 Just for Patreon supporters
In January, Doug was a guest on Streets Ahead, a UK-based podcast that focuses on active travel, cycling, walking and urban planning. In an extra conversation recorded just for our Patreon supporters, Doug talks with hosts Adam Tranter, Laura Laker and Ned Boulting about the tabloid freakout surrounding London’s low-traffic neighborhoods — sorry, neighbourhoods — and what people everywhere can learn about dealing with opponents of streets for people. Become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars at any level for access to this and all exclusive content.
❄️ Winter Cycling Congress
Earlier this month, Sarah moderated a panel at the virtual Winter Cycling Congress featuring Equicity President and CEO Olatunji (Oboi) Reed of Chicago, Councillor Sherri Rollins of Winnipeg and Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender. Follow the Winter Cycling Congress on Twitter for updates on next year’s program.
📚 What we’re reading
Doug: “I thoroughly enjoyed N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy and rushed to pick up her latest book, The City We Became, when it was released last year. Jemisin imagines a New York where the city itself is represented by human avatars — each with special powers befitting the borough with which they identify — who must join forces to battle a common enemy that despises the diversity and spirit of the metropolis they call home. It’s as much a Lovecraftian horror tale as it is a love letter to New York, complete with sharp commentary on gentrification and the nature of urban change. As Jemisin writes, ‘Great cities are like any other living things, being born and maturing and wearying and dying in their turn.’”
Sarah: “I was mesmerized by Orhan Pamuk’s beautiful, heart-wrenching 2015 novel A Strangeness in My Mind, which follows the life of a street vendor in Istanbul named Mevlut. Over the course of the book, which spans the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, Mevlut watches the city transform from a place with narrow, ancient streets where vendors thrive to a modern, fast-paced metropolis — a process Pamuk paints with keen attention to the importance of the way we build our cities: “Mevlut was only dimly aware of the gentle passage of time…. [T]he way he noticed the number of overhead pedestrian crossings that had cropped up in the city after the military coup of 1980, and the metal barriers that had been erected along pavements in order to direct people to those crossings, only when he tried and failed one day to cross Halaskargazi Road at street level.”’
Aaron: “Simmering political tension between cities and rural exurbs. A nativist population that feels increasingly left behind and threatened by immigrants, leftists and a cabal of urban elites. New electronic media technologies enabling news and images to spread faster and farther. And wild conspiracy theories leading to political violence. Sound familiar? I thought so! That’s why I recently downloaded the audio version of Steven Zipperstein’s 2018 book, Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History. The story of the two-day spasm of anti-Jewish violence in the Moldovan city of Kishinev in April 1903 has been told so many times that it’s almost become mythology. But with extensive scholarship, a keen eye for detail, and accessible writing, Zipperstein shows us the many ways that this singular event in a backwoods corner of the Tsarist Russian empire helped shape the modern world and is, unfortunately, as relevant today as ever.”
For the full War on Cars library, check out our page on Bookshop.org.
🎧 What we’re listening to
On his podcast, Conan O’Brien interviewed comedian Kenan Thompson about their mutual love of biking and their experience riding around New York and Los Angeles. Says Conan, “I lived in New York for years. There was no place to ride your bike. It’s like the second I left they said, ‘Is he gone? Yeah, he’s gone. Bike trails! Shut down whole sections of the city and turn them into beautiful bike lanes!’ They waited for me to go. Those bastards.” Says Keenan: “I like cruising. I like feeling like a little kid out there as opposed to like, I gotta work out because of, you know, heart murmurs or whatever. I don’t want to have to think that it’s just for health.” Unfortunately, they didn’t talk about Kenan’s appearance in that Super Bowl commercial for GM.
🌏 The War on Cars around the world
Listener Alex Dyer takes the War on Cars directly to the streets of Wellington, New Zealand. Nice laptop sticker, Alex. (Picture via Monique Ford / Stuff.)
☕️ War on Cars coffee mugs, Crash Course and more!
Pick up a War on Cars coffee mug in our online store. (Bonus points to anyone who sips their coffee or tea from a War on Cars mug during a Zoom community meeting.)
We also have a great new Patreon reward! As heard on Episode 46, get your own copy of Crash Course by Woodrow Phoenix, a work of graphic nonfiction exploring the powerful, often toxic relationship between people and cars. Woodrow generously provided us with signed bookplates with hand-drawn images of cyclists and pedestrians, each one unique. Become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars or adjust your existing subscription level and get one before they’re gone.
🌧 Stay dry with Cleverhood rain gear
SPONSORED POST: Cleverhood is a a small family-run business out of Providence, Rhode Island that makes stylish gear for people who like walking, biking and rolling around the neighborhood — rain-or-shine. Listeners of The War on Cars can receive 30% off the purchase of the new Cleverhood Anorak or 20% off of anything in the Cleverhood store by entering code WARONCARS at checkout.